The Baton Rouge Fire Department’s largest station has been re-opened after a $1.3 million renovation provided some much-needed TLC to the nearly 44-year-old building.
Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, District 11 Councilman Matt Watson and Fire Chief Ed Smith gathered with firefighters and nearly a dozen others to welcome Fire Station 12’s crew back to their home base Thursday.
The fire station, at 555 Government St., is home to at least 15 firefighters around the clock and the department’s largest fleet of vehicles, including a pumper truck, hazardous materials unit, heavy rescue truck, service unit and ladder truck, department spokesman Curt Monte said.
The renovations were finished in two phases: the exterior in May 2017 and the interior between November 2017 and the end of December. In the year it was closed, the station’s firefighters and trucks were relocated to neighboring stations, Monte said.
The station's interior revamp includes wood-look vinyl flooring, a new kitchen and living space, and redone bathrooms and sleeping quarters.
“Fire stations have a lot more wear and tear than a normal home would because people aren’t there 24 hours a day. All 19 of our stations are manned 24/7, 365 days a year,” Monte said.
Operator Reuben Lee and hazmat officer Justin Hill said it’s a relief to return to their home station. Hill said he loved working with other crews, but there’s nothing like being partnered with guys you’ve known for years.
“Some of us have been working together for 15 years at this station," Lee said. "You’ve been knowing these guys for as long as some of them have been married to their wives.”
Nine family members of the late Robert Bogan, the station’s namesake, toured the facility Thursday with Smith and architect William Crest.
Bogan served as fire department chief from 1918 through 1957 and helped transition the department from a volunteer force to a professional fire department. His daughter Ursula Bogan Carmena’s eyes brimmed with tears as she reflected on the endurance of her father’s legacy.
“He loved his work so much. To see the effects of it is a wonderful feeling. I know he’s up there saying, ‘thanks,’” Carmena said.
Monte said Bogan’s legacy means just as much to the firefighters.
“When you have that passion to serve it’s a special thing, and he certainly had it. He put the Baton Rouge Fire Department on the map," Monte said. "A person like that is always going to live on in our hearts in the department.”